ATLANTA — ASHRAE has installed a piece of refrigeration history at its headquarters in Atlanta with the display of the first successful electric household refrigerator manufactured 100 years ago.

The DOMEstic ELectric REfrigerator (DOMELRE) marked the first attempt to mass-market a simple, inexpensive household refrigerator. It was also the first successfully manufactured air-cooled system, and the first to be easily portable, being designed as a ready plug-in refrigerator unit that could be added to an ice box, instantly converting it to an electric refrigerator.

It was developed by Fred Wolf Jr., who was a charter member of the American Society of Refrigerating Engineers (1905), a group that merged with the American Society of Heating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHAE) to form ASHRAE in 1959.

The DOMELRE condenser, evaporator, and motor from 1916 were installed on the first floor of ASHRAE headquarters.

“The piece comes from the Frigidaire collection where it had resided since the 1920s,” said Bern Nagengast, ASHRAE historian who arranged for the donation. “As far as I know, it’s the only one in existence. It is a significant piece of both industry and ASHRAE history, being the first successful automatic electric refrigerator and invented by Fred Wolf Jr, charter ASRE member.”

Wolf was inducted into the ASHRAE Hall of Fame in 2014 for his industry contributions. To learn more about his work, go to

Publication date: 6/22/2015

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